Throughout A Song of Ice and Fire, numerous cultural and regional dialects are discussed. These dialects form the world's spoken tongue, and help define its people.
Unlike J. R. R. Tolkien, who created entire languages with grammar, syntax, and tenses, George R. R. Martin has created only a few words from each language and his languages are not conveyed in any great detail. Instead, the tongue in which they are speaking is noted but rendered in English, with added characteristics and flavor portrayed through out the text. Martin explained,
Tolkien was a philologist, and an Oxford don, and could spend decades laboriously inventing Elvish in all its detail. I, alas, am only a hardworking SF and fantasy novel, and I don't have his gift for languages. That is to say, I have not actually created a Valyrian language. The best I could do was try to sketch in each of the chief tongues of my imaginary world in broad strokes, and give them each their characteristic sounds and spellings.
David J. Peterson developed spoken Dothraki and High Valyrian for HBO's television adaptation, Game of Thrones. The languages expand greatly from Martin's few bits of published words. A website, dothraki.org, helps teach and spread the constructed tongues. Film critic and indie director Lee Demarbre has called the Dothraki language the "new Klingon".
Languages of Westeros
The Old Tongue was the language of the First Men who dominated Westeros thousands of years. Today, the Old Tongue is still remembered by giants and some free folk who live beyond the Wall, while most people within the Seven Kingdoms know no other language than the Common Tongue. Although there are minor variations to it from place to place, Dornishmen can communicate with northmen without difficulty. Foreign tongues are taught in the Citadel or are are brought from other lands by immigrants, merchants, sellswords, and the like.
Languages of Essos
- High Valyrian, the language of the old Valyrian Freehold, is now spoken in bastardized dialects across its remnants, including the Free Cities and Slaver's Bay.
- The Dothraki language is the tongue of the Dothraki, the indigenous inhabitants of the Dothraki sea.
- Old Ghiscari is a largely extinct tongue. It was spoken five thousand years ago by the Ghiscari people of the Old Empire of Ghis, which was destroyed by the Valyrian Freehold. Ghiscari was supplanted by a bastardized version of High Valyrian, though it is still spoken by some and engraved Ghiscari glyphs can be found on various objects of old.
- The people of Asshai have a language which they use in spells.
- Lhazareen is described as singsong.
- The Summer Tongue is used in the Summer Isles.
- The trade talk is a coarse argot that has developed using words from a dozen languages (many of them insults) and hand gestures.
- The children of the forest are said to sing in the True Tongue.
- The Others' language is described as sounding like cracking of ice on a winter lake. In Game of Thrones it is named Skroth.
- Dothraki wiki, on languages